United in action for the SDGs - International Day of Persons with Disabilities 2023

Community members talk to one of the IRC representatives in sign language

Using sign language to communicate with an IRC team member, these two young girls expressed their gratitude for the new inclusive toilets at their school for children with with hearing and speech impairments in Swat, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, Pakistan (IRC Pakistan)


Sunday, 3rd December marked the annual United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities. In celebration of this important day, this week we are reflecting on how Water for Women partners are 'United in action to rescue and achieve the SDGs for, with and by persons with disabilities.'

Throughout Asia and the Pacific, our partners are supporting communities and governments to progress #SDG6 - clean water and sanitation for all - which all goals of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development depend on. Through climate-resilient and inclusive water, sanitation and hygiene (#WASH) projects and research, our partners are also strengthening gender equality, disability and social inclusion so that no one is left behind.

Gender equality, disability and social inclusion (or GEDSI) is central to Water for Women's work. We recognise that only by actively and meaningfully involving all people within communities, can we ensure more equitable and inclusive processes, which in turn leads to more climate-resilient outcomes in water management and WASH systems and services, while also advancing broader gender and social inclusion outcomes.

To achieve climate-resilient water and WASH outcomes, there is increasing understanding of the critical importance of norms change to advance gender equality, disability and social inclusion.

Addressing underlying norms that contribute to gender and social inequalities can lead to more positive and sustainable WASH behaviours and practices.

For example, challenging the underlying norm of women having primary responsibility for water collection and family hygiene can lead to more equitable household division of labour, care and decision-making.

But we know this is no easy task in any society. Because it is about surfacing the ‘unseen’ (norms and attitudes) to address the ‘seen’ (behaviours and practices). It is deep work that requires: intentional resourcing, planning and support that is contextually appropriate, long-term thinking, and a robust Do No Harm lens. And these seeds of transformation must be planted early and nurtured long-term. 

Our partners are doing this deep work within their projects and this year, for IDPwD 2023, we are pleased to share an insight written by World Vision Papua New Guinea's GEDSI Officer, Nancy Wobo, who shares her organisation's journey towards transformation and how it has changed perceptions both within their organisation and the communities in which they work.


Read our #IDPwD 2023 insight from Nancy Wobo

Overcoming social barriers to climate-resilient and inclusive WASH in Papua New Guinea



Explore some of our recent work from across the Asia-Pacific region


December 3rd is the United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

This year's theme, 'United in action to rescue and achieve the SDGs for, with and by persons with disabilities' conveys the solidarity and accelerated efforts needed now in order to get many of the Sustainable Development Goals back on track for 2030 - especially those for persons with disabilities that are lagging even further behind.

Across Asia and the Pacfic, Water for Women partners are united in action for SDG 6 - safe water and sanitation for all - upon which all 17 goals of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development rely.

Working in partnership with Organisations of Persons for and with Disabilities, rights holder groups, communities, sector stakeholders and governments, our partners are accelerating access to climate-resilient, gender equitable and disability inclusive WASH services for all.

With a core focus on systems strengthening and commitment to leave no one behind, partners are also helping to build resiience within the networks and infrastructure that underpin these services. 

Together, we have reached more than 3.4 million people in 16 countries so far, including almost 70,000 people living with disabilities and more than 1.7 million women and girls.

Inclusive communities are resilient communites.


*Project targets are based on partner Civil Society Organisations (CSO) project baseline studies. Project targets are updated periodically in response to changes in context as appropriate.

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